While the pages of any book offer the potential to entertain, educate and inspire, the unique properties of the innovative paper in The Drinkable Book can literally save lives.

Created by Dr. Teri Dankovich, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, the Drinkable Book features pages embedded with silver or copper nanoparticles. In 25 trials at contaminated drinking sites in Ghana and Bangladesh, the paper was effective at removing 99 percent of bacteria.

"There was one site where there was literally raw sewage being dumped into the stream, which had very high levels of bacteria," Dankovich told the BBC. "But we were really impressed with the performance of the paper; it was able to kill the bacteria almost completely in those samples. And they were pretty gross to start with, so we thought — if it can do this, it can probably do a lot."

The Drinkable BookEach page of the Drinkable Book can filter about 26 gallons of water. (Photo: The Drinkable Book)

With more than 660 million people without access to clean drinking water, using the pages of the Drinkable Book as a simple filter could have instant impact. Dankovich estimates that each page is capable of cleaning 100 liters (roughly 26.4 gallons) of water, with an entire book capable of supporting an individual for four years.

Working with the charities Water is Life and iDE, the next step is to take the production process, currently a manual operation done by students in a lab, and gear it up for full-scale distribution. In the coming months, the initiative will also test the book with local residents to better understand how they might use the books in the field.